On Liberty Book Summary (PDF) by John Stuart Mill

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Why This Book Matters:

Written by one of the most influential philosophers of classical liberalism, John S. Mill’s On Liberty is a classical work on how to balance a modern liberal society and authority with the individuals living in it.

The Big Takeaways:

  1. Democracy can turn into a social tyranny.
    1. If While democracy may seem like the best option for governance, it still can fail to provide personal protection to all who are governed.
  2. Limiting the freedom of thinking and expression is the ultimate crime against humanity
    1. No nation should suppress differing beliefs, even if they go against social norms.
  3. Nations can only guarantee 100% individual freedom when rational principles control it.
    1. Instead of relying on irrational feelings and societal norms, the use of the rational tenets alone guarantees an environment free for everyone.
  4. Interfering on an individual’s freedom should only be used to prevent harm to himself or others.
    1. Authorities can only exercise restrictions on individuals if they are a threat to well-being.
  5. All individuals should be allowed to exercise their free will.
    1. Every individual is well within their rights to practice free will. Neither government nor people should be allowed to impose their will on others.

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